The paradox of indoor skydiving
Let’s Go Sky Diving – Indoors?
Depending on what type of person you are, if someone invited you to go skydiving, you might be be quite enthusiastic about it, or start immediately shaking in your boots. Skydiving is definitely a thrill seeker’s sport, and appeals mostly to those who have no problem jumping out of a moving plane. What about the rest of us though? Is there no compromise between being a risk taker and being an adrenaline junkie, all at the same time?
There is in fact, and it’s called indoor sky diving.
How do you go skydiving indoors?
First off, no, they don’t have to fit the plane inside of some huge building. Actually, with indoor sky diving, there’s no plane at all. There’s not even any real diving involved, and in most cases, no sky either. Indoor sky diving takes place in a vertical wind tunnel. These tunnels were originally developed for aerodynamic research, but given human nature, someone at some point couldn’t resist getting inside of one without aerodynamic research in mind, just to see what would happen. That person must have really enjoyed himself in there, because now the most high profile vertical wind tunnels are known simply as indoor sky diving facilities, and can be a great way to spend an afternoon.
There are many different types of vertical wind tunnels, with some being very permanent structures, while others can be temporary, inflatable structures to keep the wind and the flier contained inside. Whether permanent or temporary though, there will always be a large, powerful fan at the bottom, used to propel air upwards at about 120 mph (195 km/h). This force is enough to keep a full grown adult suspended in the air, above the fan blades, and can mimic the feeling of flying, which is the sensation skydivers describe.
These vertical wind tunnels are often used simply as a tourist or recreational attraction, although they can be used as a skydiving training tool. While you can obviously imagine young kids (and adults too) jumping at the opportunity to get inside of one, they can really help a first-time skydiver get the feel for what skydiving will be like, thus helping them build their confidence for the big day of their first jump.
Advantages of indoor sky diving
There are many advantages presented from an indoor sky diving system over traditional skydiving (AKA jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft!) and if you are sheepish about traditional skydiving, you may want to consider it first.
Perceived safety factor – While we are always quick to point out that sky diving is a very safe sport, with very few fatalities or injuries, it still seems extremely dangerous to most people. Getting inside of a vertical wind tunnel, which will only propel the person 10-15 feet above the ground, on the other hand, seems much safer by comparison. In reality, both are totally safe to partake in, but you can’t blame your brain for trying to play tricks on you to convince you that indoor sky diving is a much safer activity.
It can prepare you for a real jump – Lots of people who are apprehensive about traditional skydiving can gain peace of mind from going indoor sky diving first. You will get suited up in a jumpsuit, helmet, goggles and all necessary gear, and it will truly simulate the feeling of sky diving. You will immediately learn what it feels like to free-fall, without making any radical changes in your elevation. You will also discover how moving your body slightly can change the direction and speed of your free-fall, to the point where your first real jump will feel natural to you.
Less limitations on who can and can’t jump – Even though we maintain that traditional sky diving is safe, there are still a ton of things that can go wrong 15,000 feet above the earth’s surface. That’s why sky diving companies have to set limits on who can and can’t jump. Young children and severely overweight individuals will likely be excluded from being able to sky dive. With indoor sky diving though, there is much less risk involved, and people of all ages and most weights can partake. Children will need their parent’s permission however, but no amount of pleading from a parent would ever get an 8-year-old up into a plane they would eventually hurl themselves from.
Disadvantages of indoor sky diving
While there are certainly many advantages to indoor sky diving, there are a few distinct disadvantages as well. We won’t cover the fact that most elitist sky divers consider it to be “fake” sky diving, as that’s simply a matter of opinion.
The view is nowhere near as stunning – This one is probably pretty obvious, but when you go indoor sky diving in a vertical wind tunnel, the view is generally unspectacular. The feeling of being high up above the earth’s surface disappears, and you don’t get that feeling of rushing towards the ground, or slowly floating towards it once you pull out your parachute.
Finding an indoor sky diving location can be much harder – With traditional sky diving, you can generally find a drop zone in every state in the country and in most foreign countries as well. All they need is a small plane, the sky diving gear and a certified instructor. With an indoor sky diving set up, even though all the equipment may be cheaper to invest in, you simply don’t see as many of them. Some drop zones will have a vertical wind tunnel on-site to help prepare you for your jump, but by and large indoor sky diving facilities are not the norm.
So, if you’ve ever wanted to go sky diving but are still even slightly apprehensive about it, indoor sky diving might just be the thrill you’ve been looking for. Who knows, it might even be enough to give you the courage to finally get up in that plane and do the jump for real!